VEGETABLE PAELLA - COOK'S NOTES The star of a vegetable paella is the rice, but it is essential that
the rice takes on the the flavours of the vegetables, especially the
tomatoes, onions and garlic. The simple things in life are always the best
and it is well worth while devoting ten or fifteen minutes longer to this
paella to cook it at its very best.
To get the most from the tomatoes, garlic and onion, this recipe cooks the
tomato and onions for longer than normal. The liquid formed by this cooking
is known as the sofrito. It is the base flavour which initially flavours the
rice and is a key element of a good paella. In this vegetable paella recipe
we are going to concentrate the sofrito because it will be the key flavour
element to the rice.
For a sofrito to impart maximum flavour to the rice it needs to be cooked
slowly at a low temperature and for a long time. And this gives us a problem
when cooking paella in the traditional fashion, on a barbecue. Yes, a
barbecue provides a very large heat area compared to a cooker hob which is
excellent when cooking the rice. But a sofrito is cooked as the first set of
ingredients for a paella.
A barbecue is at its hottest at the beginning of the paella cooking process,
exactly the time when ideally, it should be at its coolest to cook the
sofrito long and slow. So we recommend cooking the sofrito on your cooker
hob where you can control the temperature much more accurately compared to
on a barbecue.
If you want to continue cooking the vegetable paella on the hob rather than
on the barbecue then feel free to do so. A vegetable paella is eminently
suitable to be cooked on a cooker hob.
A 30cm / 12im paella pan or large frying pan.
Onion - peel, top and tail and finely chop
Garlic - peel, top and tail and finely chop
Peppers - Remove pith and seeds then roughly slice
Parsley - finely chop
Tomatoes - remove skin and finely chop or blend in a food processor
Add the olive oil to the pan on a medium heat and
then add the chopped onions. Stir the onions frequently while frying
them for five minutes. You want the onions to soften but not go brown so turn down
the heat if the onions appear to be over-cooking.
Add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, sweet paprika and
simmer for 35 minutes. The mixture you now have is the sofrito
(base sauce) of our vegetable paella and gives it much of its
Add the stock and cook for five more minutes with the heat on medium
(a slow boil).
Add the paella rice to the pan and settle it
evenly to bottom of the pan with a spoon or spatula.
Add the sliced peppers, peas, rosemary, saffron and eight drops of
lemon juice to the paella and cook for 10 minutes on a low boil.
Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for eight minutes.
Most of the liquid will now have been absorbed. Take
the paella off the heat and cover with kitchen paper or similar.
Leave it to rest for five minutes.
Sprinkle chopped parsley over the paella and decorate with sliced